Can you imagine suddenly feeling as if you’ve been pushed off of a precipice — but knowing that those sensations don’t have anything to do with your surroundings? Or being unable to feel the ground under your feet as if you were walking six inches above the floor? Or your senses telling you that the room is spinning around you, bringing on extreme nausea, all the while you know that can’t possibly be true?
You’d be convinced that something was terribly wrong with you physically, or perhaps that you were losing your grip on sanity, wouldn’t you?
After interviewing people who have experienced attacks of severe vertigo, and trying to mentally put myself in their shoes, frankly, I found the scenarios they described absolutely terrifying. And the fact that these bouts can come out of nowhere must make them even more disruptive, and difficult to deal with.
Worse yet, many people, including a number of health professionals, seem to be unaware that vertigo is very often treatable. (Thankfully, most conditions that cause this symptom are benign in and of themselves — at least in the sense that they’re not life-threatening.) A vestibular therapist who reached out to me on Twitter told me that a number of patients arrive in the office after having lived with an almost instantly reversible form of vertigo for long periods — in one case, 25 years!
You can find out more about the most common causes of vertigo, and how each of them are treated, in my latest Good Times health feature: ‘Regain Your Balance: What Can Be Done to Treat Vertigo.’
My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so kindly shared their time, expertise and experience:
- Ann Douglas, a Peterborough, Ont., writer, speaker, and author of numerous books, including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, and Parenting Through the Storm: How to Handle the Highs, the Lows and Everything in Between. Sadly, due to space constraints, Ann’s comments on living with Meniere’s disease weren’t included in the story.
- Roland Fletcher, a physiotherapist, competency certified vestibular therapist, and assistant professor of teaching in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Fletcher is also a board member of the BC Balance and Dizziness Society.
- Joyce Pinsker, secretary for the BC Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society.
- Dr. John Rutka, a professor of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the University of Toronto, staff neuro-otologist at the University Health Network, and co-director of UHN’s Hertz Multidisciplinary Neurotology Clinic.
- Shaleen Sulway, a vestibular therapist, and co-director of Vestibular Health, who is also part of the team at UHN’s Hertz Multidisciplinary Neurotology Clinic.
- Erica Zaia, a Vancouver, BC registered audiologist who is certified in vestibular assessment and management.